Q. What are the publication dates of the novels?
A. 1987 Under Cover of Daylight (Thorn) W.W. Norton
1990 Tropical Freeze (Thorn) W.W. Norton
1991 Paper Products (short stories) W.W. Norton
1992 Bones of Coral Knopf
1993 Hard Aground Delacorte Press
1994 Mean High Tide (Thorn) Delacorte Press
1995 Gone Wild (a small amount of Thorn) Delacorte Press
1996 Buzz Cut (Thorn) Delacorte Press
1997 Red Sky at Night (Thorn) Delacorte Press
1998 Body Language St. Martinís Press
2000 Rough Draft St. Martinís Press
2001 Hot Damn! (essays) St. Martinís Press
2002 Blackwater Sound (Thorn) St. Martinís Press
2003 Off the Chart (Thorn) St. Martinís Press
2004 Forests of the Night, St. Martin's Press
2007 Magic City (Thorn) St. Martin's Press
2008 Hell's Bay (Thorn) St. Martin's Press
2010 Silencer (Thorn)
2011 Dead Last (Thorn)
2012 Hit Lit
Q. Which novels feature Thorn as the hero?
A. See #1 Twelve of the novels feature Thorn
Q. Should the books be read in any order?
A. Iíve tried to write the Thorn novels in such a way that reading them in order isnít necessary. But Under Cover of Daylight is a useful book to read so you can understand how Thorn got to be the way he is. The other novels can also be read in any order. I know some readers simply canít do that and must read them in chronological order of publication. I understand that need, but Iíve tried hard to make each book stand independently.
Q. When will the next book be published?
A. Hit Lit will be published in April 2012. The next Thorn novel is still be written.
Q. What was your background before becoming a writer?
A. I spent many years in school, earning a B.A. in literature, an M.A. in creative writing and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. But between stints as a student Iíve been a bartender, a landscaper, a marina worker, a summer camp dining hall manager, a lifeguard and a restaurant manager and a handyman. I once had the distinction of digging post holes and building a fence for Robert Redford at his Sundance ranch.
Q. Any movie projects underway?
A. Several of the books have been optioned over the years and a TV series was planned around a character much like Thorn. But at the moment, thereís nothing on the horizon I can mention.
Q. Are your characters based on real people?
A. The bad guys come from my twisted imagination. I sometimes check out the mug shots of recently arrested individuals in Miami or the Keys and fantasize about who these people are and where they live and who their friends are and so on. The good people in my novels are usually combinations of people Iíve met while doing research. Police officers, attorneys, and so on. During the research phase of each book, Iím looking for the kinds of people who might populate the novel as well as for information about a particular subject.
Q. Play any sports?
A. I played college tennis. And I played high school basketball in Kentucky and still can do a couple of Globetrotter moves. I still play tennis as often as my body allows and I jog in the three to four mile range.
Q. Is Thorn based on someone you know?
A. Thorn is a combination of several people Iíve met over the years. A neighbor of mine in Key Largo many years ago heavily influenced his creation. My neighbor was a fishing guide and had done some risky and heroic stuff during Viet Nam and was the kind of guy who had a very clear code of ethics that he didnít mind acting on even if it meant putting himself in danger. Thereís also a little Travis McGee in him of course. And heís a loner like I am, someone who spends a great deal of time in a room crafting small beautiful objects (fishing flies) that only a few people in the world truly appreciate. In the fifteen years prior to creating Thorn, Iíd been writing poems, which are small beautiful objects that only a few people appreciate, so I could identify with that part of him.
Q. How can I get an autographed, personalized copy of one of the novels?
A. Hereís the process: email your request for the book to Mitchell Kaplan at: Kaplan296@aol.com Mitchell is the owner of the great Miami bookstore, Books and Books and is the director of the Miami Book Fair. Heíll arrange for you to purchase the book and get it signed and personalized in any way you choose and then mail the book to you.
If you have older books you want signed and personalized, youíll either have visit when I come to a bookstore in your area, or make arrangements with one of the bookstores where Iíll be signing on my next book tour.
Q. Which of your books is your favorite?
A. When Picasso was asked which of his paintings was his favorite, he replied ďWhich of my fingers is my favorite?Ē
I feel a little that way. All of them have some special importance to me. Some were easy to write, some hard. Some were written during times of great difficulty (like the aftermath of hurricane Andrew) so they stand out differently than others. But none is a favorite above all others.
Q. Who do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
A. I read within the mystery genre and outside it as well. I also read books for classes Iím teaching at the university. I like John Sanfordís Prey series a great deal. I like everything Elmore Leonard writes and I read Sue Graftonís novels with great pleasure. Other favorites: Hemingwayís Sun Also Rises and Charles Frazierís Cold Mountain. Richard Russoís novels are wonderful, especially Empire Falls. I loved White Oleander and Michael Chabonís novels are terrific. I also reread the old Travis McGee novels now and then and I still reread Ross MacDonaldís Lew Archer novels. James Lee Burke is a wonderful favorite as is Scott Turow. Iíve rarely been disappointed by Pete Dexter or Richard Price. Just recently Iíve been reading bestsellers from the past century for a non-fiction book Iím doing next year and Iíve truly enjoyed rereading To Kill a Mockingbird and Pearl Buckís The Good Earth, Peyton Place and The Exorcist.
Q. Do you use an outline?
A. Nope. Iíve tried, but my brain doesnít work that way. I write for the same reason I read, to be surprised and to feel an excitement about the unfolding narrative and all the twists and turns and surprises. I want to discover real life people, see into their depths and come to care about them. I find that outlines make me focus too much on the plot movement and not enough on the process of discovery.
Q. What are your daily work habits?
A. Iím up very early. Five oíclock usually. And there are days that I write 10-12 hours. I compose on the computer and rewrite constantly. I usually start each writing day with an hour or two of rewriting the previous daysí work.
I usually break for the evening when I read or watch movies. But sometimes when the novel is near completion, I even work in the evenings, so those twelve hour days become even longer. I usually take a year to get the book done. Six days a week, sometimes seven. With a month at the beginning of the year to do research and a month at the end of a book to take a break, gather my breath, kiss my lovely wife and pet my dogs, before diving into the next one.
Q. What do you do when not writing?
A. I read. I hike. I play tennis. I fish. My wife and I go on trips. We take the dogs for walks, work in the yard, watch old movies or new ones. Go out to eat with friends. The same things most folks do.
Q. Do you know any good fishing guides?
A. Geoff Colmes in Islamorada will lead you to bonefish, tarpon or redfish or whatever else youíd like to catch. Heís also just begun a great houseboat operation in the Everglades, for eco tours, fishing, photography and kayaking. Heís a great guy and a knowledgeable and interesting companion. And heíll lead you to the fish! Locate him at: http://www.floridakeysflyfish.com/
Q. Where should I stay in the Florida Keys?
A. First you need to buy Joy Williams wonderful guide to the Keys. The Florida Keys, (Random House). Itís indispensable and full of funny info and even some great writing.
Best restaurants: Sundowners, Snappers, Marker 88, Ballyhoos, The Fish House, Encore.
Key West: Youíre on your own. See the Joy Williams book.
Q. Do you do your own research?
A. I do. This is a crucial phase for me. I treat it as a journalistic, investigative month or so. I try to go to the locations that Iím going to write about and meet people in the area of concern. For Blackwater Sound, for instance, a novel that features marlin fishing, I went to Cabo San Lucas and the Bahamas to participate in professional marlin tournaments. For Gone Wild, I spent time in Borneo and Singapore to meet some of the people who deal in orangutans and those who fight the smugglers and exploiters of these endangered primates. I also wanted to see orangutans in a jungle setting, which I was lucky enough to do. These month long research periods are also supplemented by reading and internet research and by talking to folks on the phone or in person. Itís amazing how helpful people will be in describing insider information about their specialty area.
Q. Are you really as handsome as your pictures suggest?
A. Cameras have not achieved the technical sophistication to truly capture the charismatic spark of certain individuals. But unlike some other authors, I do not resort to PhotoShop to trim my waistline or implant hair.
Q. Whatís your office like?
A. Pretty simple. An Apple computer and a keyboard and a good fast printer. A DSL connection and a window that looks outside so I can let my mind wander while looking at a natural landscape.
Q. What does your wife do?
A. Sheís my first and best editor. Sheís been a school teacher in the public schools for over twenty years, teaching AP and Honors English. She also makes beautiful quilts and appliquť creations and teaches applique. Her website is: http://stellabellaapplique.blogspot.com/
Q. How about pets?
A. Weíve had labs and Great Danes and we now enjoy the company of three Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
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Copyright 2007 James W. Hall | Website by Net Gain Consulting | Photos of James Hall by Maggie Evans Silverstein